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With thousands of mutual funds on the market, how do you decide which fund to buy? Looking at the fees that can erode long-term returns is a good way to sift through your choices.
Looking for something else? Check out our investment returns calculator
How to use the mutual fund calculator
Enter an initial investment amount.
Enter an annual contribution if you plan (as experts advise) to make regular new investments. Many mutual funds have minimum initial investments, but brokers often will waive that minimum if you make monthly deposits.
Add how many years you plan to stay invested in the fund. The longer the time horizon, the greater the potential returns.
Input an estimated annual return for the mutual fund. (You can find the fund's historical performance online, but remember — past performance does not guarantee future results.)
Finally, add the annual fees, known as the mutual fund's expense ratio. Lower fees mean more of your cash will stay invested for potential long-term growth.
If you don't like the fees you're seeing, exchange-traded funds often have lower expense ratios than typical mutual funds.
An important note: This calculator presumes you are shopping only for no-load, no-transaction-fee funds — mutual funds that don't charge a sales commission or fees for purchase or sale of shares. (You can read more about mutual fund fees here).
Before you buy a mutual fund (or any investment), you'll need to have a brokerage account. Opening an account is simple, but you have a few choices to make: Learn more from this primer on how to open a brokerage account.
Ready to start investing? See our picks for the best brokers for mutual funds